Friday, April 16, 2021

2 Minutes. Go!

We have to stop meeting like this. They're going to get wise to you. You aren't toeing the line sufficiently, or you could do better if you just rubbed these essential oils into your eyeballs. Read your bible. Bible. Sorry. 

Take this assault rifle and go bust some bottles out back, son. We need you ready for when the queers and abortioners attack. Put this confederate flag on your truck. Not the white one they waved at the end of the war...the one your cousin has tattooed on her taint. 

You hear about that kid who sold lemonade to pay off his classmate's outstanding school lunch bills? That's fucking socialism, and it's disgusting. Me? I'm making more money than ever by not planting the crops the gubmint don't approve of.  My Deddy got rich not planting soybeans. The government takes care of farmers, you know? 

The people who pick and work in the fields, not so much. 

Did you take the sticker off your new phone? The one that says it totally wasn't put together by sterilized Uyghur women. You're supposed to leave that shit on. Let people know it's official. 

I'm gonna head on down to the Walmart. Yell at some people. Like a real American.


  1. Playing with the first chapter of my work in progress...

    Ch 1
    our story begins on a two lane Georgia highway, passing through green arches. A yankee might think they were living trees, but anyone living here knew the trees were long dead, ready to keel over in a windstorm, green only because of the curse of kudzu.

    Our heroine sits at the edge of a wide spot in the road. No, I am wrong, she is not sitting, she is pacing. Now sitting again, looking north, as if she is waiting for something, or someone.

    The air is heavy. It has not rained for at least twenty-four hours, but steam rises from the few spots of pavement where the sun pierces the thick vines that killed the trees.

    She stands up as she hears a throaty noise in the distance. Her demeanor changes from confident boredom to that of a distressed waif, lost and in need of help.

    Her pitiful look reaches perfection just as the source of the noise rounds the curve. A VW Camper, in lime green and white, of uncertain vintage. The fact that it lacks flower decals to mask dents or rust spots might lead one to believe that it has been lovingly cared for.

    This is, in fact, the case. The driver of said vehicle has spent the last three years restoring the exterior and interior of this bus he now claims as home. He has spent hours exploring junkyards for engine parts, weeks on eBay looking for original upholstery fabric and carpet, and an obscene amount of money on custom-tinted paint.

    He slows as he approaches our heroine. He raises an eyebrow as he sees she is all alone, and he pulls to the side of the road.

    The perfectly lubricated door opens without a squeak as he gets out.

    They make eye contact. He lowers his not modest figure to her height and grunts involuntarily.

    “Are you okay?” His voice reveals a northern accent.

    She whimpers.

    “Do you belong around here?”

    She bats her eyes, then looks down.

    “Don’t feel like talking?”

    She shakes her head.

    He struggles to get to his feet. His knees creak as he stands and finds his balance. “Well, I wouldn’t normally do this, but do you think you can show me where you live if we drive around a little?”

    She nods enthusiastically.

    “You know, you shouldn’t get into strangers’ cars, right? That this is an exception? Only because you’re lost?”

    She nods again, less enthusiastically.

    He opens the passenger side door for her. “My name is Ralph, by the way. Ralph Humbder.”

    Our heroine jumps up to the seat and says not a word. Our heroine, you see, is a dog.

    1. sloppy typing, sloppy spelling, no extra charge.

    2. Some excellent misdirection there. I read it twice to see where I was tricked into thinking something entirely different was happening. The use of present tense with third-person omniscient (I think?) is interesting. Will later chapters zoom in closer or will it maintain the wider perspective? (Ha ha, I think I'm still wearing my developmental editor hat!)

    3. I'm playing with a structure that is sort of inspired by documentary movie style. A chapter that is told in a narrator voice (like this one) then a chapter told close in, mostly in dialogue. And I appreciate that developmental editor hat!

  2. Dan, I couldn't find the place to reply under your piece, but I hear the outrage and share it. No shit, though: writing it out like this stops it turning into despair. I love this:

    "Not the white one they waved at the end of the war...the one your cousin has tattooed on her taint."

    Pure wounded venom. Humour as shield.

  3. The House Carpenter

    “When a woman gets in trouble, everybody throw her down.” — Robert Johnson

    “It’s about a woman in trouble.” — David Lynch

    Tumbling, stuttering, a guttural stammering. Coyote in the dark hills yammering. These are the finish lines we contrive when we are cruel. When we dam the staggered voices of the anguished.

    “Somebody died here tonight. A terrible killing. Let me clean the ground.”

    (Shirley and Jamie carved in a tree,
    First comes dread, then comes malice,
    Then comes the fruit of the poison chalice.)

    “No time. Let it pass.”

    Hot liquid days. Blessings, our daemon English hearts ablaze.

    Death in the bike lanes. Death in the bay. A kindness, unacknowledged.

    You’ve seen her tight to her shadow, pulled in like shellfish, fussed over and fingered by the matriarch. Don’t assume that’s all she is. Don’t. Oh, she waits. Bides her time. But take a breath or two, sit tight, hang fire, her killing time is coming.

    “I need to do this.”

    “Two people die every second. Give it up.”

    How is it you stumble on trouble every day? You are a slavering bat with your sonar tuned to strife.

    You’re in the West End, the water beyond the palms placid as a cataract. Driftwood logs punctuate the beach. In daylight everything is green; at night we’re all cetacean. You ask a gull why pain exists. A shadow transits the sun, your momentary skin a-flinch, volatile like waves. The gull only laughs, glimpsing and rebutting its own ephemeral ghost.

    It’s a single second plucked from all the generous seconds offered us.

    Are we to be returned to the manufacturer? Is this our fate as hosts?

    The man in your house is wrong and strange. The quieting of night makes you wait.

    He spreads all his tools and his face won’t ever change.

    Why are the times you least feel like talking always the ones you need to most?

    1. Gorgeous words and images, haunting, too. "...placid as a cataract" is perfect, so is a-flinch... so is it all.


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